Thursday, June 25, 2009

Uninsured putting stress on emergency rooms

According to a report out this week, the average total waiting time in a U.S. emergency room in 2008 was four hours and three minutes, a 27-minute increase in nationwide average wait times since 2002.
The recession is one chief reason for the increase, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. In a survey in January of more than 1,700 emergency doctors, 66 percent said they'd seen an increase in the number of patients in their emergency rooms over the preceding six months. Most of the physicians -- 83 percent -- reported seeing patients who'd lost their jobs and health insurance and delayed medical care.

"Some of these people come to the ER because they've been turned away by their primary care physician, because they've lost their insurance," said Dr. Angela Gardner, incoming president of the physicians group. "Sometimes they've delayed care because they have no insurance and end up with a much more serious condition."

Gardner, who works in the ER at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, said these newly uninsured people are taxing an overburdened system.


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